Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hobby Talk - Random Musings

Well, this might be the longest I have ever gone without posting but it's not for a lack of opinion or anything to say. As I have mentioned before, as the co-host of Cardboard Connection Radio, the show provides an outlet, twice per week, that allows me the platform to provide much of the commentary I used to provide here. But some things have been on my mind and I thought I'd digest and work through them here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

First Ever Grading Submission Results

Most of you know that when it comes to selling vintage cards online, that it can be quite the pain in the you know what if the cards aren't graded. I've sold vintage cards raw and first, you don't maximize the return on the card, secondly you deal with too many feedback and charge back issues regardless of how transparently honest you describe the card's condition. 

I used SGC because, quite frankly I trust them, in as much as you can trust such a subjective process. In all the years I have been involved with the hobby media side of things, either with Card Corner Club or Cardboard Connection, I've never heard or read a story about an issue at SGC. Now I am not naive enough to think that they don't exist, I simply do not have any first hand knowledge. Given recent events, I just couldn't give my money to PSA and while I'm content to let sleeping dogs lie, you all know I can't give my money to Beckett either. So that left me with one option, SGC.

When it comes to vintage cards, most of what I have in my PC or that I am selling on consignment for others isn't anything close to PRISTINE, GEM MINT 10!!! I'm more of a VG to EX kind of guy so I was hoping that's what range the cards I sent in would receive. So here's a look, card by card.

I'm pretty happy all-in-all. Would have liked a bit better grade on the Gayle Sayers but that's OK.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

It's Official - PSA Duped or Complicit in Biggest Scam Ever Perpetrated in The Hobby

Mastro leaves court*
With this week's admission in Federal court, that Bill Mastro is guilty of defrauding the public by way of his trimming the world's most valuable baseball card, more questions than answers continue to unfold. While many will argue with the analogy that "a rising tide lifts all ships" and that his action business helped turn the hobby into a multi-billion dollar industry, did more good than harm, I strongly disagree. The end never justifies the means when accomplished through deception, fraud, forgery, shill bidding, doctoring or any other unethical business dealings associated with this hobby of ours.

The fact that the card was trimmed, and was the first serial numbered graded card of PSA, ever, which essentially put PSA on the map and created the now multi-million dollar industry of card grading, leaves ONLY two possibilities of what actually transpired way back in the early 1990's.

1. PSA Was Duped - Think about it. One of the very first cards they EVER graded, is a doctored piece of cardboard worth no more than a designation of "Authentic", and truly how can we even be sure of that. The card that set the standard for all future pre-war cards to follow is a sham. Not only is it a sham, it's a sham that was graded by the company that literally created the grading card industry.

2. PSA Was Complicit - Could PSA have been in on the scam from the beginning? Well of course. Think about the publicity that was continually generated for the company every time that card changed hands. The mainstream media provided, literally, millions of dollars worth of free advertising. For years, in the early days of card grading, the Honus Wagner T206 provided a sense of legitimacy to the whole concept of card grading and helped PSA become the industry leader they are today. So there was definitely motive.

So, with a show of hands, how many of you choose to believe Option 1? And now, Option 2? What you choose to believe is really what this comes down to because, we may never know the truth and there simply is not another option.

The other part of this story is that of shill bidding. To know it happened once, one can safely assume, surmise, ponder - that it happened numerous times. Is MastroNet the only sports memorabilia auction house to use such practices to artificially inflate the value of sports memorabilia for higher revenue percentages? I don't know. But it certaily isn't out of the realm of possibility.

So everyone that owned the "The Card" made money, so what's the big deal, some may ask. Let's ask Ken Kendrick, the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks and current keeper of "The Card" if and when he chooses to sell it.Talk about getting left holding the bag. Who knew that all the previous owners were playing a 30+ year game of hot potato?

* Photo credit (Anthony Souffle, Chicago Tribune, 10/9/13)


Saturday, August 31, 2013

The $500 Philadelphia Football Card Experiment- Part 2

Well I recently sold the Dick Butkus card for $24.95. Here is how the math worked out.

Price of card:        $24.95
S/H:                      $ 2.95
Total Gross:          $27.90
Final Value Fees: $ 2.80
PayPal Fee:         $ 1.11
Postage:              $ 1.69
Total Fees:           $ 5.60

NET Total:           $22.30

I reinvested $20.48 of the net on a special Blowout Cards had on a 4-pack of Tiger Woods Pro Shots. The price included shipping.

Looking online at recent eBay sales, these are going for $9.99 each + shipping.

I am going to list them with a BIN of $9.95 + $6.95 S/H. If all goes well, after fees I'll come within a couple dollars of doubling my money. 

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The $500 Philadelphia Football Card Experiment

Last weekend we had a huge garage sale. My mother-in-law has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and we moved her into our attached rental unit. This is her second downsizing in 2 years. She had an auction and a previous huge tag sale at the time of the original downsize.

The lady that ran her tag sale, also does estate sales. She stopped by our garage sale with a box of older musty cards, most from the 1970's. I gave her $20 for the box and upon closer inspection, I found these buried inside.

Yes, that's right. 1967 Philadelphia Football 2nd year cards of legendary Bears greats, Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus. I already have a Sayers and there were actual two of the Butkus. 

Some of you may remember a recurring blog post by a shop owner by the name of Bob Brill and his Brill Report. He conducted what he called "The $10,000 Experiment" in which he started with a single purchased item for $10 and sold it at a profit, reinvested and repeated until he hit his monetary goal. I found it fascinating and miss it. 

So I figured despite not having a shop with people walking in to willing to sell me various items, that I'd give the experiment a try of my own, albeit on a smaller scale. Taking just these two cards, I'm going to sell them on eBay and use the money to reinvest in other things I think I can flip and repeat until I reach $500.

With everything I have going on, I hope I can commit to this, so wish me luck and let the games begin!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"It's the most wonderful time of the year . . ."

And I'm not talking about Christmas. If you are a collector, and you wouldn't be reading this if you aren't, this week kicks off The Hobby's annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the National Sports Collector's Convention. Hosted in the city it should really always be held in, Chicago, this year marks the event's 34th assembly of collectors, manufacturers, dealers, support services and athletes. 

There is a whole host of activities going on and the Cardboard Connection did a great job of providing a detailed run down of all the happenings.

Being in our hometown, Cardboard Connection Radio is bringing attendees an experience they'll never forget. It starts this week with the awarding of a ticket to Panini's VIP event to one lucky listener.

Friday, August 2, 2013 – Special autograph guest: Lisa Marie Varon, aka Tara from Impact Wrestling, aka Victoria from WWE. Autographs are free for collectors in attendance.

Saturday, August 3, 2013 – Artist Sean Kane will be at our booth showing off his amazing skills and painting in person. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013 – Sam Smith will conduct a live case break of 2012-13 Panini Rookie Anthology Hockey at our booth. Two lucky listeners will earn spots in the break. 

We'll be giving away boxes of trading cards, mystery packs with autos and memorabilia, a table full of commons, t-shirts and more!

After hours, the crew will be partying on either Thursday or Sunday night at the Squared Circle in Chicago.

Friday night we'll be at the Hyatt for the Net54 dinner and Saturday night we'll be hanging with the Panini big wigs and their high rolling clientele for their VIP extravaganza.

Be sure to listen to the podcast of the Friday show on 7/26 for the "Phrase that Pays" and visit us at Booth C1 right in the media area between the autograph and Olympic pavilions.

Hope to see you in Chicago!!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"Cards Against a Wall" Documentary Pays Tribute to Shoeless Joe Jackson

As most of you may know, one aspect of my personal collection is Shoeless Joe Jackson. I truly believe he was wronged by Major League Baseball and Commissioner Landis. When you take away a man's passion, what kind of life is that. Last night, on Cardboard Connection Radio, we had the honor of speaking with the curator of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum. During the course of our conversation we learned about a documentary currently in production. Here is a short trailer:

Small time American museums that preserve our history are vital resources to the fabric of our country. The Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum offers a unique collectible in exchange for an $11 donation. This very cool Shoeless Joe Jackson poker chip. I can't wait until mine gets here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cracker Jack Baseball Cards Still a Classic

In 1914, the company known for the popular confection Cracker Jack released as series of baseball cards. Designated as E145 in the American Card Catalog, the set consisted of a total of 144 cards.

Measuring 2-1/4 inches by 3 inches, they were larger than most candy and tobacco–era cards of their day but smaller than the modern cards collectors have become accustomed to today. Printed on a thin paper stock, the cards featured 

players posed in both action and portrait photos against a brilliant red background.

Still Alive and Collecting

I think this is longest I have gone without blogging since starting Voice of the Collector five years ago this August. It's not that I don't have anything to say about the hobby, far from it. It's just that I get to talk about collecting for 180-minutes, every week on Cardboard Connection Radio. If you've never tuned-in, you should check it out, either live, or download it later. We have great guests from industry execs and athletes, commentary, news and opinion about the hobby we all love.

I've also been doing some freelance writing for a collectibles website called WorthPoint. The audience is much different than the more educated collectors who listen to our show or read blogs and participate on forums but if you want to see what I'm up to over there, here is a link to my article library. 

In addition to all that I still write for Cardboard Connection. We are in the process of updating an extensive article archive on brands and specific sets providing collectors one more reason to make the site their one stop resource for sports card news and information. In fact the site is having a huge contest where you can win a Damian Lillard Green Prizm RC #/15 and hobby boxes of Topps 2013 UFC Knockout and 2013 Gypsy Queen.

As if all that wasn't keeping my free time busy enough, I am fortunate and blessed to be covering the Stanley Cup Finals in Chicago for Sportsology. I had the privilege of doing this in 2010 when the Blackhawks won The Cup and I am hoping for a repeat performance this year. You can check out my series preview here and a recap of Game One here.

I still open a ton of product and you can catch all the highlights on YouTube. We deliver short, sweet and to the point videos of the product highlights and the hits we find. No messing with opening packs and dry commentary. Check it out!

As for the 2013 trading card season, it's been as expected for the most part but here are some of my random observations.

- Nice to see press Pass with an entertainment product for Parks and Recreation. A show that is driven by a constant stream of A-level guests and they were able to get almost all of them to sign for the product.

- Cryptozoic continues to amaze and dominate in the non-sport category. With licenses for DC, Archer, Fringe, and more, the company has really filled a much needed void since Inkworks left the market.

- Topps Archives Baseball and Football delivered a nostalgic thrill ride. Fun products for taking a trip down memory lane.

- Topps Museum Collection has delivered some amazing cards. The box I opened was probably the worst in the entire production. Advertised to include a GUARANTEED (4) hits including an autographed relic, that card was missing in my box and I wasn't happy about it. You can't GUARANTEE something and then not deliver. It's simply inexcusable.

- Past and Present Basketball is a solid value for the money.

- Leaf Trading Cards landing the former lead graphic designer from Upper Deck was a coupe. In addition to landing key product development manager Gregg Kohn, Leaf is poised for great things.

- Leaf's Best of Basketball is great. Patrick Ewing hasn't signed for anyone in forever and still managed to get him in the product with game used patch autos.

- Panini doing an autograph set of the Bad News Bears in Golden Age Baseball is AWESOME!!

- USA Baseball having a pack product is pretty cool. It brings the pack opening experience to a strong brand and Panini delivered it well.

- Gypsy Queen bores me.

Well that's enough for now. Keep collecting and check out Cardboard Connection Radio!

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Weekend of Contrasting Card Shows and a Wax Pack Jackpot

I had the good fortune of being able to attend a couple of card shows this weekend, two very different card shows.

The first was the Ohio Sports Collectors Convention in Strongsville, OH., billed as the largest "hotel" show in Ohio. The 3-day event included autograph guests, with the most notable being, Cleveland Browns running back, Trent Richardson, and a full array of dealers all the way from Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Iowa. The show also attracted major auction houses and authenticators, JSA, Legendary and Fusco auctions to name a few.

If modern wax, in packs or boxes, was your thing, this was NOT the show for you. This show is more old school and was dominated with vintage dealers and as such attracted hundreds of collectors, want lists and pen in hand, paging through binders and 5,000 count boxes in a quest for the all allusive set completion. That was exactly my goal for attending as well. Needing just (11) cards to complete my 1970 Topps Baseball set, I knew I would be able to accomplish that mission and I am happy to report that I did. All the cards I needed were high-numbers and as to be expected, I had to pay a bit to get the job done spending about $50 to get the needed cards in EX/NM condition. Here is a picture of Iowa dealer, Tom Payne and myself with the final (2) cards.

I made a serious rookie mistake and could have kicked myself as I broke my own card show rules with time, or lack of it, being my excuse. Usually I make a full circle of the venue noting who has what I need and taking a quick look at prices to see who is selling at the most reasonable (read cheapest) price. In this case I stopped at the first table with binders and overpaid by about $15 for the first three cards I needed as I could have gotten them from Tom Payne for about 1/3rd of what I paid. Note to self and all other collectors; dealers at the front of the venue, those right in front of you when you walk-in, often times pay a premium to be placed in this prime real estate. As a result, those dealers often have higher prices on their cards knowing that the impulse principle kicks in and I got suckered into it myself. Oh well lesson learned, but a reminder of just how costly a mistake that can be if searching for higher ticket cards and items.

The second show was a small Mall show in the town I live. It comes once a month and I don't always go but I am glad I did. One of the dealers in attendance (who also happens to run one of the worst card shops I have ever been to, but that's a story for another day) busted out a 5,000 count box, jam packed with mid and late '90's wax at 50% off the stickered price. I did a live break on Twitter if you want full details but wanted to give you some of the highlights here.

I am a big fan of products from this era, particularly '96-'99, primarily because it immediately proceeds the time I re-entered The Hobby. Opening packs from that period of time provides me a glimpse of what I was missing as the "junk-wax" era was finally laid to rest and the emergence of the "hit" era was beginning. 

Here is a rundown of the brands I purchased. 1994 Minor League (Top Prospects), 1995 Sports Flix, 1996 Bowman, 1996 Metal Universe, 1998 Skybox Dugout Access, 1998 Fleer Sports Illustrated Then & Now, 1998 Topps Gallery, 1999 Fleer Brilliants, and 1999 Skybox Thunder. Here are some of the better cards, hits and cards I liked the most.

All in all a very productive weekend of card show shopping.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Years Later the Truth Hurts- Ahhh! Sweet Justice

I wish T.S. O'Connell would crawl out from his rock of obscurity.

Longtime readers of this blog will remember an event that happened just over 4-years ago on the blog, Infield Dirt on the Sports Collectors Digest website. Talk about a publishing company that failed to see the writing on the wall regarding online media, the brain damaged suits running the show ran that company like the Internet was a fad. The people on the front lines, those writing the articles, were no better. The company is a shell of itself and completely irrelevant today.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, here are some links to previous posts. It's a shame that the referenced articles are no longer available on the SCD website but in hindsight I'm sure the brass there simply couldn't have that degree of embarrassment lingering on the Internet.

This is the post I made when veteran journalist T.S. O'Connell turned off comments on his blog and made a post titled "Online Commentary System Deeply Flawed". 

A follow-up post led to LOTS of comments.

This WHOLE thing started as a result of his blind faith and desperate defense of Bill Mastro, "his longtime friend." Unhappy with the constructive arguments being made by some people (including myself) about the indictment, instead of allowing people to voice their opinion he turned off comments on his blog and then had the no class tact to basically say that anyone with a dissenting opinion other than his own is wrong.

I am thrilled that someone so disconnected with new media is no longer part of it. I just wish he'd have stuck around long enough to see the truth revealed about his "good friend" who turned out to be nothing but a greedy, thieving, scumbag.

Bill Mastro isn't someone that should have ever been revered, envied, trusted, or done business with. The judge has rejected his plea deal and will most likely face trial and hard time, which he deserves. When you put a black eye on The Hobby, you hurt everyone.

As for my nemesis of yesteryear, the truth hurts, too bad you were too much of a wussy to suck it up. People of your generation unwilling or incapable of engaging with readers and learning how to embrace social media have proved to be dinosaurs and have disappeared just as quickly.

Friday, March 8, 2013

When Hobbies Collide

The real life drama that is sports often presents the perfect canvas for stories rich in triumph and tragedy. The glamour, fame and larger-than-life personalities of the athletes involved make them as equally compelling as any masked superhero. Therefore, it makes perfect since that as the popularity of organized sports has grown that there have been comic books to chronicle these amazing tales of athletic achievement and championship pursuits. Here is a look at just some of the material available to collectors.

Read the rest.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Piece of the Game Gathers Momentum

If you missed our interview with Don DuPree, director of the new sports memorabilia TV show, A Piece of the Game, you can listen to it here. Today, creator and appraiser, Rob Steinmetz, appeared on WGN to promote the show.

A Piece of the Game appearance on WGN Morning News from SMM on Vimeo.

Monday, February 25, 2013

PSA Grading Provides . . .

PSA is currently offering 6 FREE grades when you sign up for PSA's Collectors Club! So if you are into grading or have long considered joining PSA's Collectors Club, click on the link or banner to qualify for your free grading submissions.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Collecting Danica Patrick: Options For Everyone

This weekend, the Daytona 500 will have a lot of extra attention on it because of one driver: Danica Patrick. As the first woman to race from Daytona’s pole position, Patrick will secure herself in the annals of NASCAR history.

But long before she starts her engine on Sunday, the world of Danica Patrick collectibles is already running rich with options. Regardless of your budget or collecting preferences, there’s something for everyone—from the casual fan to hardcore collectors.

Read the rest.

Video: If Only Every Athlete Did

Friday, February 22, 2013

MJ at 50: A Look Back at His Airness' Memorabilia

Legally named Michael Jeffrey Jordan, the world simply knows him as Michael or M.J. The former basketball player responsible for captivating not only a nation but the world with his high-flying play rim and his intense competitive nature is turning 50 years old on Sunday, Feb. 17. To put that in terms that will make most of us feel our age, he is officially as close to receiving his AARP card as he is from winning his last NBA Championship in 1998. Read the rest.

Spring Season = TTM Autograph Opportunities

Autograph collecting is a tradition whose history has been well documented years before the concept of an organized baseball pre-season training regime took hold at the professional level. However, for both baseball fans and collectors, the phrase “pitchers and catchers report” signifies the start of a baseball season that—from beginning to end—encompasses nearly nine-months. Spring Training’s annual tradition also designates the start of another annual season for collectors, referred to as TTM: Through-the-Mail autograph collecting. Read the rest.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Ever Changing Landscape of the Secondary Marketplace

First their was eBay, and for years that was the only outlet for collectors to sell their cards online. Then came the Beckett Marketplace. Since then, a handful of young entrepreneurs have joined the scene providing collectors with several more alternatives including SportLots, Check Out My Cards, and the most recent newcomer, Collector Revolution. That being said, which of these outlets do you most utilize for selling? Take the poll below.

A Question of Integrity: Poll Results- The Bogus Shoeless Joe Jackson

After seeing these results, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to purchase an autograph from about 50% of the respondents. How do the results make you feel about the overall integrity of the hobby?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Random Thoughts Musings, and Other Nonsense

Graded cards. I kind of get it. It eliminates argument or conjecture over condition and helps to preserve determined condition and therefore potential value. However, the thought of paying money to submit my cards for grading makes me cringe. I would rather buy more wax or sell the cards I would submit and buy them graded already. I know, I know, if you have a Bryce Harper Chrome Auto you think you can get a 10 on, submitting it would cost a fraction of what you would have to pay for one. My sentiment was geared more towards vintage cards of proven Hall of Famer's than today's players who are just one injury or PED scandal away from obscurity ala, A-Rod, Sosa, Bonds, McGuire, etc. and thus part of the reason grading of modern cards is something I can't quite put my money into.

Topps flagship baseball is here. Whoopee! (not really)  My collecting habits have changed so drastically since I got back into The Hobby, twelve years ago, that I would rather subject myself to horribly produced box break videos while strapped to a chair and my eyelids pried open than to waste my time and money collating a set I can buy factory sealed in 12 months for less than $40. Well, remembering this scene, maybe not.

Anyways, at one point, I had this goal of putting together every base Topps baseball set, from my birth-year of 1970 to the present. Content with purchasing factory sets annually so I could focus my resources on past sets. Now the only ones I care about or are working on are 1970 and 1973 (my wife's birth year). I have sold large chunks of semi-sets of late and only need 10 cards to complete 1970. I do have complete sets of 1980 through, I believe, 1985 if anyone is interested.

I have gone through a MAJOR collection purge over the last several months and have replaced "collectibles" that I would leave to my kids with things a bit easier to liquidate and tangible; precious metals, fire arms, savings, and signed memorabilia of deceased Hall of Famer's. Don't get me wrong, I still love ripping packs and boxes but since I am not made of money I have to be much more selective and that is why guaranteed hit products like those from Leaf and ITG have a lot more appeal to me as of late as they meet my price point and I don't have to deal with worthless base cards so much.

Heroes of Sport. This company has come on the scene like wildfire. From what I have witnessed of their products, they deliver far more dollar-for-dollar value than ANYTHING else on the market. Now, you have to be able to afford $500 for a box, which I can't, but when you combine some of the hits being pulled and the number and degree of quality prizes being awarded via their raffle drawings, I must admit, it seems as if they have built a nice little business model for themselves.

Message Boards. Man is that one hobby medium that can create rumors and spread hearsay, conjecture and innuendo quicker than an editor can change his shirt. Over the last week or so, two very specific instances were posted on separate boards that gave me pause and became a topic of conversation this past Wednesday on Cardboard Connection Radio. (Forward to about the 30min mark) One on FCB was so erroneous that its ridiculous, the other on Net54 could eventually become evidence in an FBI investigation. I contacted Mark Sapir at Topps for his side of the story on the FCB one. Listen to the show for more details. 

Don't get me wrong, these things can happen on other media as well; blogs, social networks, etc. but when you have a dedicated community as most message boards do, things can spin crazy in a heartbeat.

Collecting the Super Bowl. If you are interested in learning more about collectibles from the big game or from the Ravens and 49'ers, click the links to see some work I did for WorthPoint.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

So, Stop Me if You've Heard This One

An ex-President and a delusional man walk into a pawn shop . . . .

By now, many of you have probably seen or heard about the Upper Deck George Washington Haircut Signature card that was featured on the TV show Pawn Stars last night. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a look. The History Channel doesn't allow for embedded video so watch it here at the 13:20 mark.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Quiz Time: Super Bowl Winning QB's

Now this one is TOUGH. is always right on top of it when it comes to the timeliness of their quizzes. How many can you get? Take the quiz and note your score in the comments.

Good luck! Take the quiz.

Babe Ruth Autographed Photo Appraisal

Watch Appraisal: 1947 Signed Babe Ruth Photos on PBS. See more from Antiques Roadshow.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Collecting the Super Bowl

The National Football League’s annual championship game, known as the Super Bowl, has been a tradition since 1967. From its humble beginnings, the game has morphed into a two-week-long event, complete with its own fan convention, VIP parties and international media coverage. Historically, the most watched television program year in and year out, the annual spectacle provides the perfect platform for delivering its own unique collectibles.

Read the rest.